So, with classes over for the winter break I browsed the October edition of Gentlemen’s Quarterly (stop snickering) and found an interesting interview with Denzel Washington, one of my favorite actors. I thought his closing comment worthy of note. When asked, “If you had one thing to say to African-American readers of GQ, what would you say?” Mr. Washington responded,
Take responsibility. One of the things that saddens me the most about my people is fathers that don’t take care of their sons and daughters. And you can’t blame that on The Man or getting frisked. Take responsibility. Look in the mirror and say, “What can I do better?” There is opportunity; you can make it. Whatever it is that you choose, be the best at it. You have an African-American president. You can do it. But take responsibility. Put your slippers way under your bed so when you get up in the morning, you have to get on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, start your day with prayer. Ask for wisdom. Ask for understanding. I’m not telling you what religion to be, but work on your spirit. You know, mind, body, and spirit. Imagine—work the brain muscle. Keep the body in tune—it’s your temple. All things in moderation. Continue to search. That’s the best part of life for me—continue to try to be the best man.
This seems like good advice for all young people, not just GQ‘s African-American readers. And it is the sort of advice that, if followed on a wide scale, ensures the sort of self-responsibility that keeps individuals free and self-sufficient.